I thought that kale was just that annoying green fluffy stuff that restaurants put on the side of your plate to “decorate” it. Boy was I wrong.
Do you remember the ORAC scale that I blogged about on Day 12 when I wrote about the health benefits of blueberries? Well, in case you don’t remember I’ll provide a little refresher…..the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale is the test used by the USDA and others to determine the antioxidant level of fruits and vegetables. Blueberries ranked #1 in the fruit category and kale ranked #1 in the vegetable category! Shocked again! I always thought that raspberries had the highest antioxidant level of any fruit and I assumed that spinach was the top vegetable (for some reason I always think of spinach as the healthiest vegetable. Maybe because of PopEye?) Kale received an ORAC rating of 1770, with spinach coming in second at 1260.
Kale is actually a relative of cabbage and contains powerful phytochemicals and cancer-fighting indoles, which are plant compounds that have been found to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancer. Kale is also high in sulforaphane, which I also blogged about in my post on broccoli on day 27 , which is great for removing free radicals and other chemicals that may cause cancer. A recent study in Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer proliferation.
Additionally, kale contains phytonutrients that actually signal our genes to produce enzymes to detox our cells, eliminating harmful compounds. A study of Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which air pollution levels are often high putting stress on the detoxification capacity of residents’ lungs, found that in non-smokers, eating cruciferous vegetables lowered risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!
Kale is also great for the eyes, as it contains two very important vision nutrients: Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A. One cup provides 192.4% of your Daily Value for Vitamin A and seven times the amount of beta-carotene as broccoli! Added bonus, 2 cups of kale has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and only 66 calories.
So, how did I prepare my kale? A salad? Raw? Sautéed? Boiled? Nah, I didn’t go the traditional route, I made something absolutely amazing that you guys would never even believe could be done or taste good…..I made kale chips.
Yeah, you heard me right. I made kale chips, which is just like it sounds, crispy, salty, crunchy chips made with kale leaves. The best part: It was super easy and my three-year-old begged me for more!
- 1 bunch of fresh kale
- sea salt
- garlic powder
- oregano or italian seasoning
- olive oil
- Wash the kale leaves really well. I used the fruit and vegetable wash that I bought at Trader Joes (and blogged about)
- Cut the stems off of the kale and dry the leaves with a paper towel
- Place the kale leaves in a bowl and combine all ingredients, tossing well to coat each leaf
- Bake in a 275 degree oven for 30 minutes or until crispy
- Let cool & then enjoy!
If you would have told me a month ago that my daughter or I would enjoy eating kale, I wouldn’t believe you! I wasn’t even going to offer it to her because I thought she wouldn’t eat it, but she saw it come out of the oven and then asked me to try it. She not only ate the one I gave her, but she asked for another. My son, on the other hand, did not enjoy it. This challenge has taught me that you never know what you (or you kids) will like unless you try it. I have tried so many new foods in this first 31 days and I have been pleasantly surprised more than once.
Have you ever eaten kale? Have you ever been surprised by liking a food that you never thought you would like? Please share!